Lifestyle - Older, Wiser And Trendier - How Dressing Your Age Can Make You Look Younger
January 16th, 2006
A friend of mine who can’t reconcile himself to having recently turned 60 years old showed up at his birthday bash in a tie-dyed T-shirt he’d worn to rock ‘n’ roll concerts 35 years ago and a black leather jacket with lots of silver studs. He tried to conceal his bald spot by combing it over with the hair he still has left. He looked ridiculous and older than he is.
With the first baby boomers the generation born soon after World War II-now turning 60, a once-hip generation of men has a problem: looking younger and with-it, but not foolish, as they begin to use senior discounts. The women in their lives cover gray hair with dye and wrinkles with makeup, but those tactics are too girly for most guys.
What they need to do is change their eyeglasses to a smaller style and get a pair of brown leather shoes that go with almost everything. Wearing slimmer, less boxy suits also helps, as does a splash of color.
What today’s men have going for them is that many are fitter and more youthful-looking than their fathers were at their age, thanks to hours of working out or doing active sports from mountain biking to scuba diving. Even with toned muscles, however, they know they will look silly in fashions aimed at college kids and aren’t sure how to update their wardrobes. Heavier men have even more of a problem.
Not surprisingly, fashion designers and retailers are beginning to cater to middle-aged men’s desire for clothing that is hip and sophisticated. Paul Stuart (www.paulstuart.com), a New York retailer with stores in Japan and South Korea, recently began selling a side-vented jacket with a gently sloped shoulder that isn’t tight but has a stylish, lean look that can be worn by men who have assed some extra pounds. And Under Armour, a U.S. maker of stretchy exercise clothes, is doing a brisk business with boomer men, shorts as girdles under trousers.
Even conservative Brooks Brothers sees a market in slimmer, more colorful styles for older guys. It now sells a line of $800-to-$1,000 suits that are cut narrower than its traditional roomy style. The pinstripes on some of its navy-blue suits are light blue, lavender and other colors instead of white. Its shirt come in two fits: standard and a slimmer model. And last spring, it sold polo shirts in 30 new colors, including light orange and apple green.
Boomers “want their clothes to have an attitude and we want to address what’s been a very untapped market,” says Lou Mandela, marching guy might look awful on another. Here’s a look at few of the pitfalls and how to avoid them:
Shirt that are one or two sizes too big can have so much extra material around the waistline that they bunch up over your belt and ass weight to your middle. The same goes for oversize jackets and trousers. Comfortable but makes you look heavier.
Better way: Shirt that fit trimly across your chest and back but can be easily buttoned be worn with jackets that narrow at the waist rather than looking boxy. You’ll look taller and more youthful than in a roomier style. Similarly, flat-front trousers with straight legs are more slimming and flattering on most men than pleated pants.
Leather pants may work for Mick Jagger and other aging rock stars, but they’re too young for most boomer men and show every bulge you have. Leave them on the rack for 20-somethings.
Better way: Leather jackets add pizzazz to an older man’s wardrobe, especially if they’re tailored and cut like blazers instead of motorcycle jackets. They can be worn over jeans or trousers.
Large lenses (24or 26 millimeter size) were in vogue several years age, but these cover most of your face and create a droopy appearance. That’s the lat thing any one with a sagging jaw line needs.
Better way: Smaller, 18 millimeter lenses can instantly erase 10 years from your face. And thanks to new technology, smaller frames now can be fitted with bifocals. You should try rimless styles or light-weight frames in thin titanium or even a modish color such as red. “you don’t want anything too wide, which can accentuate your nose, or too narrow, which doesn’t cover your eyes,” says Jeff Press, operations manager of Morgenthal Frederics, a New York eyeglass retailer.
Penny loafers or oxfords with tassels on the ties can date you. “After people look at your eyes, they look at your feet, and if you’re wearing the same style shoes that you’ve worn for 10 years, you’re out of it,” says Drew Sisselman, an Atlanta image and style consultant.
Better way: A slip-on or tie style that is contemporary can “freshen everything else you’re wearing ,” says Mr. Sisselman. And Kenneth Cole and Nike’s Cole Haan nuit have trendy styles with comfortable, cushioned heels. Boomer men also can wear low-heeled leather boots or Western boots with jeans. A pair of black leather shoes, with leather soles instead of rubber ones, is essential, but so is a pair in brown, which can be worn with navy, gray and khaki.
Black sweaters are hip whatever your age, but black suits can look funereal on anyone over 35.
Better way: Navy and charcoal your are more flattering on most men, but rather than sticking to the same tried and true solid color, experiment with textured fabrics and unusual color combinations gray with a subtle stripe, paired with a maroon, dark blue green or lavender shirt.
If you’ve got a full head of hair feel free to flaunt it. But if you’re going bald, don’t try combing over your bald sport.
Better way: The thinner your hair gets, the shorter it should be. Short hair accentuates your features.
By CAROL HYMOWITZ